A qualitative adjective helps us to express attributes like size, color, shape, and emotions. They add depth and vividness to our descriptions, making our communication more precise and engaging. Whether it’s a beautiful sunset, a fluffy cloud, or a fast car, a qualitative adjective allows us to paint a colorful picture with words. In this article, discover the meaning of qualitative adjectives with examples, and usage.
What is a qualitative adjective?
A qualitative adjective is a type of word that describes or gives more information about a noun. It tells us what kind or quality the noun possesses. In other words, it describes the characteristics, attributes, or qualities of a person, thing, or idea.
For example, let’s consider the noun “cat.” If we add a qualitative adjective like “fluffy” before the noun, we get the phrase “fluffy cat.” Here, “fluffy” is the qualitative adjective that tells us about the quality of the cat. It helps us imagine the cat as having soft and thick fur.
Qualitative adjectives can be used to describe various aspects of nouns such as their appearance, size, color, texture, taste, personality, emotions, and more.
Types of Qualitative Adjectives
Here are the various types of qualitative adjectives explained with examples:
1. Descriptive Adjectives
These adjectives describe the qualities, characteristics, or attributes of a noun. They provide more information about the noun’s appearance, color, size, shape, etc. For example:
- “Beautiful” describes the quality of beauty: a beautiful flower.
- “Big” describes the size: a big house.
- “Round” describes the shape: a round ball.
2. Comparative Adjectives
These adjectives are used when we want to compare two things or more. They indicate whether one thing has more or less of a certain quality compared to another. For example:
- “Taller” compares the height of two people: John is taller than Mark.
- “Faster” compares the speed of two cars: The red car is faster than the blue car.
- “Smaller” compares the size of two objects: The apple is smaller than the watermelon.
3. Superlative Adjectives
These adjectives are used to compare more than two things or people. They indicate the highest degree of a certain quality. For example:
- “Tallest” indicates the highest height among a group: John is the tallest person in the room.
- “Fastest” indicates the highest speed among a group: The cheetah is the fastest animal on land.
- “Smallest” indicates the smallest size among a group: The mouse is the smallest mammal.
4. Absolute Adjectives
These adjectives describe an inherent quality that cannot be compared or graded. They express an absolute state or condition. For example:
- “Perfect” describes something that has no flaws: She gave a perfect performance.
- “Unique” describes something that is one-of-a-kind: This painting is unique; there is no other like it.
- “Empty” describes the absence of contents: The glass is empty; there is nothing inside.
5. Gradable and Non-gradable Adjectives:
Gradable adjectives can be modified with adverbs to indicate different levels or degrees of quality. Non-gradable adjectives, on the other hand, do not have degrees and cannot be modified in this way. For example:
- Gradable: “Very hot” (more intense), “slightly tired” (less intense).
- Non-gradable: “Unique” (cannot be more or less unique), “pregnant” (you cannot be “very pregnant”).
Formation of Qualitative Adjectives
Here is an explanation of the formation of qualitative adjectives along with examples:
1. Adjective Formation from Nouns
- Noun: Joy → Adjective: Joyful (full of joy)
- Noun: Cloud → Adjective: Cloudy (covered with clouds)
- Noun: Child → Adjective: Childish (characteristic of a child)
2. Adjective Formation from Verbs
Adjectives can be derived from verbs by adding suffixes such as “-ed” and “-ing.” These adjectives describe the state or quality resulting from the action of the verb. For example:
- Verb: Amaze → Adjective: Amazed (feeling surprised or astonished)
- Verb: Excite → Adjective: Exciting (causing excitement or thrill)
- Verb: Relax → Adjective: Relaxed (feeling calm and at ease)
3. Adjective Formation from Other Adjectives
Adjectives can be formed from other adjectives by adding prefixes or suffixes. This process allows us to express degrees or intensify the original quality. For example:
- Adjective: Happy → Adjective: Unhappy (not happy)
- Adjective: Strong → Adjective: Stronger (more strong)
- Adjective: Bright → Adjective: Brightest (most bright)
4. Adjective Formation from Adverbs
Adjectives can also be formed from adverbs by adding suffixes such as “-ly.” These adjectives describe the quality of an action or the manner in which it is done. For example:
- Adverb: Quick → Adjective: Quick (fast)
- Adverb: Slow → Adjective: Slow (not fast)
- Adverb: Careful → Adjective: Careful (done with care)
5. Irregular Adjective Forms
Some adjectives have irregular forms and do not follow a specific pattern of formation. These adjectives need to be learned individually. For example:
- Good (not “goodly”) describes a positive quality.
- Bad (not “badly”) describes a negative quality.
- Far (not “farly”) describes a distant quality.
Functions of Qualitative Adjectives
Here is a detailed explanation of the functions of qualitative adjectives along with examples:
1. Modifying Nouns: The primary function of qualitative adjectives is to modify or describe nouns. They provide additional information about the noun by expressing its qualities, characteristics, or attributes. For example:
- “Red apple”: The adjective “red” describes the color of the noun “apple.”
- “Friendly dog”: The adjective “friendly” describes the behavior or disposition of the noun “dog.”
- “Tall building”: The adjective “tall” describes the height of the noun “building.”
- “She is happy”: The adjective “happy” describes the subject “she.”
- “The cake smells delicious”: The adjective “delicious” describes the cake as perceived by the sense of smell.
3. Attributive and Predicative Position: Qualitative adjectives can be used in two different positions within a sentence. When an adjective appears before the noun it modifies, it is in the attributive position. When it appears after a linking verb, it is in the predicative position. For example:
- Attributive position: “The blue sky” (adjective before the noun)
- Predicative position: “The sky is blue” (adjective after the linking verb)
Degree of Comparison with Qualitative Adjectives
Qualitative adjectives can be used to compare the qualities or characteristics of different things or people. This is done through the degree of comparison, which indicates whether one thing has more or less of a certain quality compared to another. There are three degrees of comparison: positive, comparative, and superlative.
1. Positive Degree: The positive degree is used to describe a single noun without making any comparison. It simply states the quality of the noun. For example:
- “She is happy”: In this sentence, the adjective “happy” is used in its positive degree, describing the quality of happiness possessed by “she.”
2. Comparative Degree: The comparative degree is used to compare two things or people, indicating that one has more or less of a certain quality than the other. For example:
- “John is taller than Mark”: In this sentence, the comparative adjective “taller” is used to compare the height of John and Mark, suggesting that John has a greater height than Mark.
3. Superlative Degree: The superlative degree is used to compare more than two things or people, indicating that one has the highest or lowest degree of a certain quality among a group. For example:
- “The cheetah is the fastest animal on land”: In this sentence, the superlative adjective “fastest” is used to indicate that the cheetah has the highest speed among all animals on land.
To form the comparative and superlative degrees, we often add specific endings to the base form of the adjective. Commonly, we add “-er” and “-est” respectively, or use “more” and “most” before the adjective. For example:
- Comparative: “Hotter” (hot), “more intelligent” (intelligent)
- Superlative: “Hottest” (hot), “most intelligent” (intelligent)
Agreement of Qualitative Adjectives
Agreement of qualitative adjectives refers to the way in which adjectives match or agree with the nouns they modify in terms of gender, number, and case. Adjectives need to agree with the nouns they describe to ensure grammatical correctness and clarity in a sentence.
1. Gender Agreement: In many languages, including English, adjectives can agree with nouns in terms of gender. This means that the form of the adjective may change depending on whether the noun is masculine, feminine, or neuter. For example:
- Masculine noun: “He is a tall man.”
- Feminine noun: “She is a tall woman.”
- Neuter noun: “It is a tall building.”
2. Number Agreement: Adjectives also need to agree with nouns in terms of number, whether the noun is singular or plural. The form of the adjective may change to match the number of the noun. For example:
- Singular noun: “The small cat is sleeping.”
- Plural noun: “The small cats are sleeping.”
3. Case Agreement: In some languages, adjectives also need to agree with nouns in terms of case. The case refers to the grammatical role of a noun in a sentence (e.g., subject, object, possessive). The form of the adjective may change accordingly. English does not have a robust case system, so case agreement is not a prominent feature in English grammar.
Position of Qualitative Adjectives in a Sentence
Qualitative adjectives can be positioned in two main ways within a sentence: before the noun they modify (attributive position) or after a linking verb (predicative position).
1. Attributive Position: When an adjective appears before the noun it modifies, it is in the attributive position. This is the most common placement for adjectives in English. For example:
- “The blue sky”: In this sentence, the adjective “blue” is positioned before the noun “sky” to describe its color.
- “A tall building”: Here, the adjective “tall” comes before the noun “building” to describe its height.
- “An interesting book”: The adjective “interesting” precedes the noun “book” to convey its quality.
2. Predicative Position: When an adjective appears after a linking verb (such as “be,” “seem,” or “appear”), it is in the predicative position. This placement describes a quality or attribute of the subject. For example:
- “She is happy”: In this sentence, the adjective “happy” comes after the linking verb “is” to describe the subject “she.”
- “The cake smells delicious”: Here, the adjective “delicious” follows the linking verb “smells” and describes the cake as perceived by the sense of smell.
Examples of Qualitative Adjectives in Sentences
- “The beautiful sunset painted the sky with hues of orange and pink.”
In this sentence, the adjective “beautiful” describes the quality of the sunset. It tells us that the sunset possesses the attribute of beauty.
- “He found a small, abandoned puppy on the street.”
The adjectives “small” and “abandoned” provide more information about the noun “puppy.” “Small” describes the puppy’s size, and “abandoned” tells us that the puppy was left alone or deserted by its owner.
- “The old oak tree stood tall, its branches reaching for the sky.”
The adjective “old” describes the age of the oak tree, suggesting that it has been around for a long time. “Tall” describes its height, indicating that it is high and towering.
- “She wore a stunning, elegant gown to the gala.”
The adjectives “stunning” and “elegant” describe the quality of the gown. “Stunning” suggests that the gown is exceptionally impressive or striking, while “elegant” indicates that it is graceful and sophisticated.
- “I saw a fluffy white cloud floating in the blue sky.”
The adjective “fluffy” describes the cloud’s texture, implying that it is soft and light. “White” describes its color, and “blue” describes the color of the sky.
- “The diligent student always completes her assignments on time.”
The adjective “diligent” describes the quality of the student’s work ethic, indicating that she is hardworking and conscientious.
- “The curious child eagerly explored the hidden treasure in the attic.”
The adjective “curious” describes the child’s quality of being inquisitive and interested in discovering new things. “Hidden” describes the nature of the treasure, suggesting that it was not easily visible or known.
Exercises to Practice Qualitative Adjectives
Here are some exercises to practice qualitative adjectives. Each exercise includes a sentence with an underlined noun, and you have to choose the correct qualitative adjective from the given options. The answers are provided at the end.
The ________ cat played with a ball of yarn.
He bought a ________ car from the showroom.
The ________ flowers bloomed in the garden.
The ________ baby giggled as the puppy licked its face.
The ________ boy completed his puzzle in record time.
She found a ________ present waiting for her on her birthday.
The ________ elephant happily splashed in the water.
The ________ cake smelled delicious as it came out of the oven.